Think Inc. Thursdays #005

This week we’ve got scientists splicing animals, tinkering with DNA on CRISPR, and probing around on the red planet! It’s exciting stuff, BUT while we need scientists to study how things work, we also need philosophers to investigate what we ought to do. Don’t worry though – we’ve got both covered in today’s newsletter.

If you come across news that everyone should know about, send me a link to it via info@thinkinc.org.au and we might include it in the next edition!Warm regards, Suzi

HUMAN-MONKEY EMBRYOS - WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Scientists in China have grown part-human, part-monkey embryos that have survived for 20 days in a lab dish. To achieve this they artificially fertilised monkey cells, growing them for six days before injecting them with human stem cells. During the study, the number of “live” embryos declined until day 19 when only three remained.
While the number of human cells that survived wasn’t great, it was still more than when scientists tried to grow pig-human embryos. This may be due to the fact that monkeys and humans, evolutionarily speaking, are more similar than pigs and humans.

These embryos could someday serve as helpful models for human development, disease, and aging.

→ 
Click here to learn more.

AHA DISOWNS DAWKINS

The American Humanist Association has withdrawn its Humanist of the Year Award from one of the world’s greatest humanists and champions of scientific awareness, Richard Dawkins, 25 years after he received the honour. They criticise Richard for “demean[ing] marginalised groups” using “the guise of scientific discourse”.

This is an organisation that promotes skepticism and atheism. And this is a scientist who asks people to consider things that some people do not want to have considered. What do you think?

→ Click here to learn more.

THROWING THAT ASS BACK WITH PETER SINGER

Speaking of ethical questions, the brilliant Peter Singer, who actually wrote a great article on the ethics of CRISPR back in 2019, has breathed new life into an ancient novel.

Peter and his colleagues have edited Apuleius’ The Golden Ass for a modern audience. The story is about a character named Lucius who accidentally turns himself into a donkey. It’s an example of ancient empathy for animals and shows a deep understanding of animal suffering.

Peter’s work on animal ethics is desperately needed right now. Consider the fact that New Zealand has just announced it will ban live cattle exports, but Australia has no plans to do the same. This makes Australia more competitive in gaining lucrative trade deals with China, but is the profit worth the suffering?

→ Click here to learn more.

PS. You can see Peter on-stage or online this August at our tour An Evening with Peter Singer.

THIS IS NOT A HOAX

Do you remember those pizza-shaped objects that the US Navy captured blinking and moving through the clouds? Well the US Defence Department also confirmed that they are legitimate images of unexplained objects, and not a hoax!
It’s just another occurrence that will be studied under the Pentagon’s UFO task force that was formed last year. What could they be?

→ Click here to learn more.

HUMANS ARE BASICALLY FLESHY COMPUTERS, RIGHT?

Joe Rogan recently had our friend and theoretical physicist Brian Greene on his podcast to discuss Brian’s new book Until the End of Time (which is all about humans’ search for meaning in the vast cosmos, and life from the big bang to the end of time), as well as the differences between humans and computers, and how, if you really think about it, we’re not as different as we think we are.

The way Brian sees it, we’re both just collections of particles governed by the laws of physics – but what do you think?

We were lucky enough to tour Brian in 2016 and 2017 and he just hasn’t stopped blowing our minds since!

→ Click here to learn more.

Video of the Week

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has flow on Mars, making it the first aircraft to achieve powered flight on the red planet!

The first flight went exactly as planned, and while it only hovered for 30 seconds, the next ones will get progressively more ambitious. The images that it takes will help scientists design more robust drones for not only Mars, but Earth as well.

→ Click here to watch the video.
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